Monastaries

I’ve often joked with my friends on my lack of success with the opposite sex: “To hell with it, I may as well give up and join a monastary.”

That lead me to think. How would I go about joining a monastary? Are there any good places around where a person can live a good life of meditation/prayer and living off the land? one in a foreign country would be a plus, the farer away from here and more isolated the better. How easy would it be to go about that?

I’m not too picky about religion, nothing cultish though.

Lemme get this straight… you want to move off into the backwaters of a country as far away from your home as possible to live a life of meditation in peace and avoiding society at all costs, but not cultish? :slight_smile:

On a serious note, it depends on which type of monastary you are talking about. Some accept almost anyone. Some have strict rules, ritual preparation, etc. There are several monastaries around the United States that let anyone walk in and stay (usually for a donation). You have to keep in mind that monastaries are serious religious institutions, though. Looking at it with an attitude disregarding the religion is a Bad Thing ™.

If you’re at all serious, some of the Catholic Dopers and I can provide links to monastic sites (I’m Episcopalian) and I have two Orthodox contacts online that can provide links to Orthodox monasteries.

You need to be aware, though, that life in such an institution requires a sincere vocation or becomes very much unpleasant and untenable quite quickly.

Take Zagadka’s advice and go for a retreat at one of them first, to see what monastic life is really like.

The son of a co-worker just got back from a retreat to a Buddhist monastery in northern Canada. No telephones, no Internet, no newspapers, radios, or other contact with the outside world. Just 3 months of meditation and COLD. Sounds like pure hell to me.

I have spent time in a Buddhist Monastary in Nepal.

It was outside Kathmandu, called Kopan Monastary. I believe they are now on the web.

It was really a remarkable experience that I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone.

I enjoyed it and I benefited from it, and would do it again in a heartbeat.
I took a three week course, with 50 other people from all over the world. If you get a chance I say check it out.

I went for a retreat at Mepkin Abbey a couple of years ago (a day retreat). Their site has some information about vocations to the monastery.

Okay, I’m in. What about convents? Do these places take women too? Or would one have to look in a completely different place to avoid the mixing of celebate sexes?

The Sisters of St. Margaret in New Hartford, NY, hosted a retreat of our Franciscan Fellowship at which both men and women were welcome, in their guest chambers. My understanding is that it is completely the choice of the individual order as to whether men, men and women, or women only are welcome as guests/retreatants, and to what extent the members of the order intermingle with their guests.

Mepkin Abbey takes men or women as retreatants, but to enter the monastery as a monk you do have to be a man.

Benedictine monasteries are fairly well known for hospitality, and often offer retreat facilities for singles or groups. Some information is availabel at BenedictineSisters.Org. I’m not sure on whether they only take women as retreatants or not.

If by “join” a monastery, you mean become a monk, then, at least if you’re considering a Catholic monastery, it takes a long time. My brother got his “calling” to become a Catholic monk while he was in the Air Force. He wrote to many different monasteries to obtain information about the possibility of his entering after he was discharged. He ended up having to live on his own for a year before the monastery he joined allowed him to join, as they didn’t want him to join directly after being discharged from the military. They wanted to be sure that he was entering because he felt he was called to do so. Not because he wanted to hide from the real world after he was discharged.
If you’re talking about visiting a monastery or convent on a retreat, just about anyone can do that!
PS Is it just me, or did anyone else notice that this is Blalron’s 666 post? :eek:

I noticed

And even the most devout Catholics can be discouraged. One of my professors spent three years in a Franciscan monastery betfore he decided it wasn’t for him. He left, and later got married and has two daughters.

There is a book called Sanctuaries that lists a variety of places, from monasteries to spas, where you can go for spiritual retreat. It’s surprising how many there are.

There’s everything from yoga ashrams, Buddhist country retreats, Jesuit monasteries in the city, hot tub vegetarian meditation huts in the forest in California.

Personally, I’m an urban monk. I have sworn no oath of chastity, poverty, or obedience. I have no leader, though I do have teachers. I use martial arts as one of my practices. I don’t convert anyone.

Kopan Monastary took both men and women.